1822: The Currency Again
Throughout the debates on the new corn law a constantly recurring theme was the attribution of agricultural distress to the operation of Peel’s currency bill. In the absence of Baring, Attwood and Ellice were the leading exponents of this view and they received consistent support from Henry Grey Bennet, Lethbridge, Burdett, Gurney and Western. The main thesis was that agriculturalists were being ruined by a combination of high taxation and deflated market prices, the latter arising from resumption of cash payments at the old standard. As a result the government was presiding over a revolution in property ownership, with the traditional landholders facing extinction as a class. Ricardian monetary theory and policy were seen to be aiding and abetting that revolution. A major complaint was that Ricardo persisted in a gross underestimate of the former degree of inflation by continuing to use the price of gold rather than general commodity prices as an index.
KeywordsPolitical Economy Money Supply Commodity Price Wage Earner Cash Payment
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- R. M. Hartwell, ‘The Rising Standard of Living in England, 1800–1850’, in E. C. Black (ed.), European Political History, 1800–1850 (Harper & Row, 1967 ).Google Scholar